By Sergio Queiroz
RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA (Reuters) – A group of Brazilian school children gleefully remove pieces of plastic and trash on the sand of a Rio de Janeiro beach during an outing to teach them about the importance of protecting the environment.
Their school, called Notre Dame, is located on the city’s tourist hot spot of Ipanema beach and has just received a Blue School stamp from the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO as part of an initiative to protect the Atlantic Ocean.
The stamp recognizes school programs around the world in aim of protecting oceans.
The initiative comes at a time scientists fear that over 90% of the world’s marine food supplies are at risk from environmental changes such as rising temperatures and pollution.
“It’s to educate, it’s to develop awareness, it’s the formation of a generation that understands that we need the ocean to continue to exist as a species on this planet,” says head of NGO Instituto Mar Urbano Ricardo Gomes.
The stamp takes into account 16 countries located near the Atlantic Ocean and follows the UN’s decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development initiative, which started in 2021 and will end in 2030.
Alongside NGO Instituto Mar Urbano, Notre Dame school currently offers activities that aim to create awareness among children of different ages to preserve urban beaches.
UNESCO welcomed the initiative as it instills curiosity in children about the ocean and its role in generating oxygen, regulating the climate, and generating life for the planet, UNESCO’s coordinator for social and natural sciences in Brazil Fabio Eon said.
On Ipanema, the school kids play on the famous beach’s shore while cleaning up.
“I loved it,” said 8-year-old Notre Dame student Maria Carolina Sampaio, “because we cleaned up the trash on the beach and if it went in the ocean.”
(Reporting by Sergio Queiroz; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Steven Grattan and Aurora Ellis)
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